The Portrayal of Existentialism Within Beckett’s Play, ‘Rockaby’ Essay Essay

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The Portrayal of Existentialism Within Beckett’s Play. Rockaby “Ever tried. Ever failed. No affair. Try once more. Fail once more. Fail better. ” The words of Samuel Beckett. from his drama Worstward Ho. written in 1983. echo the ideals and doctrines behind absurdist theaters and Existentialism. Created in the early 1950s. absurdist theater rejects the conventional techniques of theater in favor of unusual and absurd conventions in order to make an impact and feeling. and present the worldview of Existentialism to an audience through an artistic medium.

Absurdism is influenced by the Existentialist worldview. particularly the impression of human being predating any kernel in life. Absurdist dramatists such as Samuel Beckett. Eugene Ionesco and Jean Genet. show a deformed position of humanity in their dramas. through their ain worldview which echoes the dogmas of Existentialism. Samuel Beckett’s drama. Rockaby. is one such drama that incorporates non-­ ? realist ( absurd ) theater techniques to stress the experiential worldview. Beckett efficaciously manipulates the Dramatic Languages and Elements of absurdist. non-­ ? additive narrative. symbolism and voice. to show Existentialism through an artistic illustration of the worldview.

Beckett efficaciously exploits the technique of absurdist. non-­ ? additive narrative to stress the doctrine of Existentialism within Rockaby. One of the most common quotation marks used to explicate Existentialism is “existence precedes kernel. ” This phrase can be translated into the impression of non cognizing anything about the yesteryear or hereafter. but merely ‘being’ – being comes before any significance of life interpreted from cognition of historic or future events. The technique of non-­ ? additive narrative. used within Rockaby. expresses this belief absolutely in dramatic footings.

Absurdist. Non-­ ? additive narrative is utilised through the handbill. insistent nature of the book – a technique that highlights the existentialists’ position of life as meaningless and the repetitive passing of clip waiting for decease. Furthermore. this round narrative provides no beginning or terminal. underscoring the experiential belief of being coming before any significance of life. including both cognition of history every bit good as future ( get downing and terminal ) . The drama begins with the word ‘more’ . There is no context. no apprehension of what has happened or is about to go on. The adult female merely appears. says ‘more’ . so the drama begins.

This continues in each of the four subdivisions. get downing with ‘more’ . and stoping with silence. broken merely by the following ‘more’ . This round gesture high spots the meaningless province of life. and the absurdness of populating merely to wait until decease. The round narration is irregular in that it still develops and evolves. with the narrative progressing from sitting at a window. to pulling the blinds. to traveling down the steps. to waiting in the rocking chair for decease. to deceasing.

Though this does non absolutely follow a round narration. it still does highlight Existential belief: that life is nonmeaningful. useless and absurd. that the lone pick we have in a nonmeaningful life is to exert our heads. to understand our absurdness and hence become responsible for our ain being.

The drama begins with the adult female sitting at the window. seeking the outside universe for another similar herself – another who can give her significance and turn out her being. This action in itself is an exercising of her head. However. her criterions bead subsequently in the drama and her mental stimulation grows less. as she becomes content merely to see motion within one of the Windowss opposite hers as cogent evidence of the being of another life. and hence making significance in her ain life. Upon the realisation it was ‘time she stopped’ this searching in vain. she closes the blind ( a symbol of decease ) before

falling – both literally and emotionally – to her swaying chair. where she sits and delaies for decease. Though the narrative is slightly round. it still conveys a narrative of the woman’s original seeking for intending. a realization of her absurdness and isolation in a nonmeaningful universe. her credence of the absurdness. and her resoluteness to wait for decease. Through this usage of absurdist narrative. Beckett brings out the doctrine of Existentialism stronger than through any of the other dramatic techniques he incorporates.

In a similar manner. Samuel Beckett incorporates symbolism within Rockaby to efficaciously show the worldview of Existentialism to the audience. One of the most important rules within Existentialism maintains the belief that life is nonmeaningful. useless and absurd. and that worlds live to decease and vaporize into void in an empty. nonmeaningful existence. The focal point topic in the drama. ‘W’ . and her actions. are used to convey this belief to the audience.

One of the first. most obvious utilizations of symbolism is within the costume picks. Beckett’s [ 1984 ] notes on the drama. as published in the ‘Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. ’ are really peculiar in depicting what kind of gown should be worn: “Black lacy high-­ ? necked… Long arms.

Jet sequins… Incongruous headgear set with excessive paring to catch the light” – A funeral gown. This highlights the feeling of decease and stoping of life. a construct that is echoed throughout the drama. The impression of ‘drawing down the blind’ is another symbol for decease. harmonizing to Professor Eoin O’Brien [ 1986 ] who states. “A drawn blind is an old usage meaning death” . The last thing the adult female does before sitting down in her rocking chair is “let down the blind. ” hence underscoring the morbid. nonmeaningful ideals of life portrayed in absurdism and its experiential foundations.

The window is besides use to make symbolism. as a representation of the woman’s hunt for another “one populating soul… like herself. ” which alludes to the longing for significance. order and the determination of self-­ ? value and self-­ ? definition in the find of another life. Beckett echoes the deductions of Bishop Berkeley’s words: “to be is to be perceived. ” [ Cited in Davis. R. : 1988 ] Berkeley is stating that life is nil more or less than the province of being perceived. It is this experiential intent and significance of life that the adult female searches for.

In seeking for another life psyche. she yearns to happen significance for herself. a hunt that is in vain. as she finds no 1 and is seen by no 1. The woman’s life and act of life is farther explored through the symbol of the swaying chair. The rubric. Rockaby. refers to a children’s cradlesong. and. the original Gallic name. Berceuse. translates to intend both ‘rocking chair’ and ‘lullaby’ . In utilizing this rubric. Beckett brings together two juxtaposed constructs: that of birth ( in the sense of the Rockaby babe nursery rime ) and decease ( the babe falling from the crown ) .

This is farther explored in the usage of the childly demand for “more” coupled with the symbolic mentions to old age and decease. through the costume and demeanour of the adult female in the chair. Therefore. it is apparent that Beckett incorporates many different symbolic mentions within his drama to convey to the head the doctrine of Existentialism. Furthermore. Beckett utilises the techniques of voice to underscore the absurdness within his drama. Rockaby.

“The Absurdists’ plays reflect… that human existences have lost the ability to pass on. ” [ Crawford. A. . et Al. . 2003 ] This is reflected in many of Beckett’s dramas as the techniques of voice and linguistic communication often carry a confused. absurd. empty tone that is characteristic of absurdism. This is no different in Rockaby. where the voice over. telling the life of the adult female in the chair. follows a really confused. yet rhythmic. form. This disjointedness echoes the construct of juxtaposing young person with infirmity and old age. The simpleness and atomization of the voice creates a childly sentiment. but the infirmity of the voice maintains the impression of age and failing.

Rhythm in voice is besides a often used technique in absurdist dramas. The book of Rockaby follows a stiff ‘to and fro’ feeling. following the trance-­ ? like province of the swaying chair and the dimetric flow of the lines. which are really verse like: “Time she // stopped Siting at her // window Quiet at her // window Merely // window Confronting other // Windowss Merely other // Windowss All // eyes All // sides High and // low Time she // stopped” The techniques of silence and intermission within the voice are besides widely used within absurdist theater. and Rockaby is no exclusion.

The voiceover used frequently pauses. adding emphasis and consequence to the verse-­ ? like lines. Silence is farther incorporated in the interruption at the terminal of each ‘section’ of the drama. The adult female in the chair intermittently joins in with the last lines of each subdivision: ‘time she stopped’ . ‘living soul’ and ‘rock her off’ . This leads to a silence. ended merely by the woman’s demand for ‘more’ . before the voice over continues the confused. rhythmic narrative. Each clip the adult female joins in with the narrative. her voice grows weaker and more fragile. easy decreasing until. at the terminal of the last subdivision. she fails to fall in in. falling into darkness and decease.

Absurdism is even further explored in the voice through the manner the voice over speaks in 3rd individual. yet is the woman’s ain voice. This detaches the adult female from the voice over. through the usage of the word ‘she’ . yet they are still one in head. through sharing the same ideas. feelings and purposes. Furthermore. voice represents the lone cogent evidence of the woman’s being ; a point that is strongly related to absurdism and easy falls into line with Existentialism. Just as Berkeley said. “to be is to be perceived. ” so excessively is voice the lone object that ‘perceives’ the adult female.

There is no other ‘living soul’ that acknowledges her being. hence. the lone manner she can turn out her being is through the narrative of her life from the voiceover: “Voice has become the woman’s ain Berkeleyan perceiver. without whose surveillance any claim to existence would be invalidated. ” [ Brown. V. . 2005 ] Therefore. it is apparent that the usage of the dramatic linguistic communication of voice has been efficaciously manipulated within Beckett’s play to make the appropriate absurdist feeling. which demonstrates an effectual portraiture of the existential philosopher apprehension seen through the absurdist techniques.

In his drama. Rockaby. Samuel Beckett incorporates many different techniques of Absurd Theatre. which accentuates his worldview of Existentialism. The quintessential belief of Existentialism – being recedes kernel – is brought to the head of the audience’s attending through the usage of the absurdist techniques of symbolism. voice. and non-­ ? additive. absurdist narrative. Beckett efficaciously manipulates these Dramatic Languages to make a drama that is non needfully about Existentialism. Rather. it is a drama that highlights the doctrine through the narrative. and mutely conveys the rules and ideals of Existentialism. without straight mentioning to the doctrine itself.

In this respect. Beckett has efficaciously communicated the doctrine of Existentialism to a modern-day audience through the use of the Dramatic Languages. Bibliography: Beckett. S. . ( 1984 ) ‘Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. ’ London: Faber and Faber. P 273.

Brown. V. ( 2005 ) ‘Yesterday’s Deformities: A Discussion of the Role of Memory and Discourse in the Plays of Samuel Beckett’ ( Doctorate paper in Literature and Philosophy ) . University of South Africa. Crawford. A. . Hurst. C. . Lurgering. M. . Wimmer. C. . ( 2003 ) . ‘Acting In Person And In Style in Australia. ’ Macquarie Park: McGraw Hill Australia Pty Ltd. Hale. J. A. . ‘Perspective in Rockaby’ in Davis. R. J. and Butler. L. St J. . ( Eds. ) ‘Make Sense Who May’ :

Essaies on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works ( Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe. 1988 ) . p 74. O’Brien. E. . ‘The Beckett Country’ ( Dublin: The Black Cat Press. 1986 ) . pp 197. 198 ‘Rockaby’ . ( 2012 ) . Wikipedia – the Free Encyclopedia. URL found: hypertext transfer protocol: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Rockaby ( Last Accessed Saturday 27th October. 2012 ) .

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